Special Correspondent

Prepared to look into specific complaints: Naresh Gupta

CHENNAI: Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Naresh Gupta on Friday said the Election Commission (EC) was ready to demonstrate the efficacy of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) in ensuring that the votes polled are recorded correctly.

Asked about the ongoing war of words between the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on the possibility of manipulating the EVMs, Mr. Gupta said doubts had been expressed on earlier occasions also. "But the EC has said it is prepared to demonstrate the working of the EVMs to the political parties and satisfy them," he added.

On Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi's reported remark that the Election Commission should take note of the charges made by AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa on the performance of EVMs, the CEO said the Commission had always said that only if complaints were specific, would it be possible for it to look into them.

On the appointment of former Joint Commissioner (Election department) as officer on special duty, Mr. Gupta said domain expertise was essential in the office of the CEO, which combined the functions of the office of the head of a department with that of a Secretariat department.

"Continuity is very essential in the CEO's office. It cannot adopt a business-as-usual approach for electoral administration," he said, adding that it was important that the entire electoral machinery functioned independently to enable elections to be conducted in a fair and free manner.

"This has been reiterated by the Supreme Court in several cases as a basic feature of the Constitution," he said.